What is a reasonable excuse?

Personal Tax Feb 14, 2014

The deadline for filing your 2012/2013 tax return has come and gone and now 710,000 taxpayers will receive an initial fine of £100 (assuming they actually file before the end of the month still).

That is unless they have a "reasonable excuse". But what is a reasonable excuse?

HMRC gave the following as examples of what they would consider to be a reasonable excuse:

  • A failure in the HMRC computer system
  • Your computer breaks down just before or during the preparation of your online return
  • An extended period of exceptional weather very close to the filing deadline (which may be very relevant this year)
  • Delay caused by HMRC reviewing the need to complete a return
  • Loss of tax records through fire, flood or theft
  • Serious illness
  • Disability
  • Bereavement
  • HMRC Online Service does not accept the return (where it can be proved a genuine attempt to file was made)
  • Delayed receipt of online activation codes after having registered to file online (new for 2012/13 returns)

Any claim will need to be sent to HMRC in writing within 30 days of the penalty notice. This can be in the form of a letter but it may be easier to complete HMRC’s claim form which can be found here.

HMRC also have further guidance on what counts as a reasonable excuse here.

Please note however that explaining to the tax man that the dog ate your tax return probably won't cut it....


Franck Sidon

With over 15 years of experience as a Managing Director at TaxAssist Accountants, I have helped thousands of businesses and individuals achieve their financial goals and optimize their tax efficiency.